Definition of program music in US English:

program music


  • Music that is intended to evoke images or convey the impression of events.

    Compare with absolute music
    • ‘Although Brahms is not associated with program music, his early Ballade in D minor gets its inspiration from the Scottish ballad ‘Edward’ that dives into the underside of the human condition.’
    • ‘We may tentatively agree with him that technically the Passion is a form of programme music for liturgical use, its designative meaning referring specifically to religious events and doctrines.’
    • ‘Raff's affinity for program music - and particularly for subjects derived from nature, folklore, and the supernatural - is abundantly evident in these four symphonies.’
    • ‘This has led some people to think that it must have a programme since apparently programme music need not be logical.’
    • ‘Based on Robert Browning's poem, a work noted for its compelling rhythms, it is set to program music by John Corigliano, which offers no viable dance rhythm at all.’
    • ‘Antarctica is a very attractive work in its final form but betrays its origins as programme music in that some transitions lack apparent musical logic.’
    • ‘It is an extraordinary and greatly influential work and an early example of the extravagant new romantic style of programme music taken up by Liszt and others.’
    • ‘The sonnets give the four seasons line-by-line instructions as to what this program music is all about.’
    • ‘Unlike program music, there is no story or plot readily symbolized by the music.’


program music

/ˈprōˌɡram ˈmyo͞ozik/